Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, November 10, 2003

Night orienteering


Wednesday night I'll do the first night O' practice of the season. I'm psyched.

Night O' is great training. Navigating at night takes a lot of concentration, even in terrain you've run in a lot. I also find it easier to keep a hard effort when I'm training night O' than when I'm training technique in the day. I don't know why that is.

A few more-or-less random thoughts about night O':

Buying a headlamp might have been the best investment in O' equipment I ever made. I don't know how many hours of training and racing my headlamp has been through, but it has been a lot in the 14 years since I bought it.

My first night O' was a "direct course" at the Ostergotland District Champs in 1988. I ran with a friend shadowing me and offering advice. I remember grabbing my map, turning it over and taking about five steps running toward the first control. My friend yelled at me to stop, take a look at the map and think about taking the trail. Good advice.

Running with a headlamp takes a bit of practice. The lamp, because it is so close to your eyes, makes shadows disappear. You can't judge depth as well as if the light came from an angle. It is easy to stumble or trip over rocks or logs.

Running with a headlamp also attracts police and park rangers. Mary was stopped in Shawnee Mission Park by a ranger who thought she might be illegally hunting. I've been stopped regularly and asked what I was doing. Once I explain what I'm doing I haven't had any trouble.

I did Google searches for "night orienteering" and "natt orientering" and found relatively little information. I figured I'd bump in to some pages with information on how to race at night. I didn't find much.

When I first began night O' I used to do a hard run the day before each race. I wanted my legs to be sore when I started. I figured that'd force me to run a bit slow and take it easy. It worked. But, after a bit of experience, I realized that if I wanted to have good results I needed to go in to races with fresh legs.

posted by Michael | 9:10 PM


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